Ex-EEO exec accused of harassment
Five women have filed complaints against a garage manager at the Hale Koa Hotel
Five current and former employees of the Hale Koa Hotel have filed federal complaints alleging sexual harassment by a manager and former equal employment opportunity counselor there.
According to complaints filed with Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the parking garage manager at the Waikiki hotel made lewd jokes about female body parts, unwanted advances toward subordinates and had an affair with another subordinate.
The women, three of whom no longer work at Hale Koa, say that complaints to hotel management and human resources resulted in no discipline against the manager.
The Hale Koa's general manager told the Star-Bulletin that the military-run hotel takes the allegations very seriously, and is planning a "thorough investigation."
The EEOC, which already has conducted a preliminary investigation, has 180 days to render a decision. If complainants consider its final decision unsatisfactory, they may appeal or file a civil lawsuit in U.S. District Court.
Five Honolulu women have filed federal sexual harassment complaints against a manager and former equal employment opportunity counselor at the Hale Koa Hotel in Waikiki.
The women, current and former employees of the hotel, filed the complaints yesterday with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission department at the hotel, which is operated by the U.S. Army.
Among the allegations are that John "Jack" Lloyd, parking garage manager of the Hale Koa Hotel, not only made lewd jokes about female body parts, but also made unwanted sexual advances -- and had an affair with another subordinate, a married woman.
The women also said that Lloyd used his position to evaluate work performance or grant sick leave based on his relationship with female subordinates, and showed favoritism in the workplace toward the woman with whom they say he was having an affair.
Lloyd did not respond to several Star-Bulletin requests for comment this week. But John Jefferis, general manager of the Hale Koa, said in a statement that hotel management "takes allegations of sexual harassment very seriously."
"As soon as we're provided the details and pertinent facts in this matter, a thorough investigation will be conducted and appropriate action taken, if required," Jefferis said, who confirmed that Lloyd was a designated EEO counselor at Hale Koa Hotel.
The women, who range in age from their late 20s to mid-60s, say they intend to pursue the case to the end.
Joyce Alcover, Ernestine Gonda, Halii Coleman and two other women who requested anonymity have filed separate formal complaints with the U.S. Army's EEO department.
The women, three of whom have since left their jobs, say they first went to the hotel's management, its human resources department and even the Army's EEO office at Fort Shafter, but that the situation did not improve.
"Mentally, it was getting to me, and I just decided to leave," said Coleman. "The benefits were pretty good ... but I couldn't take it. Nothing was changing."
Coleman said she was afraid to go to work at one point, after Lloyd informed her that the husband of the woman he was having an affair with had a gun.
Another woman, Joyce Alcover, a new mother who still works as a supervisor at Hale Koa, said in her complaint that the parking manager made sexual jokes like: "You wiggle too much with your husband" when she was struggling with a key in the cash register.
He also called her at home in March of last year, invited her to come to his home and told her he should have dated her, she said. On another occasion, he hit her on the head and called her "silly girl," she said.
Though she informed the assistant general manager, she said, no corrective action was taken.
Instead, she alleges that it resulted in retaliation from Lloyd by nitpicking over her work performance and over being a few minutes late.
Ernestine Gonda, another employee who worked at Hale Koa, said that from 2002 to 2005 she was subjected to unnecessary touching by the manager, who would rub her back or lean over her shoulder at the computer.
He invited her to his home once, she said, informing her he made a lot of money and had his own townhouse. She also received what she considered a perverted Easter card in 2004.
She requested, but was never granted, a change in shift or transfer to another department, she said.
"I couldn't stand it, so I quit, a month before making five years," said Gonda. "I couldn't hold on already, so I just quit."
Gonda said she followed the chain of command, complaining first to the assistant general manager and the human resources director, but that nothing improved.
Coleman said she is mostly angry that none of her complaints resulted in any discipline.
"I just don't want this to go on anymore," said Coleman. "It's not right to me."
The women filed preliminary EEOC complaints in April. Under federal guidelines, such complaints could not be considered formal until after a minimum 30-day investigation was completed. The agency now has 180 days to render a decision. If complainants consider its final decision unsatisfactory, they may appeal or file a civil lawsuit in U.S. District Court.
A verdict in another Hawaii case last month, albeit in a different jurisdiction, indicates that the price of an employer failing to respond appropriately to such complaints can be high.
In May, a former Hawaiian Airlines flight attendant won more than $500,000 in a state Circuit Court case for a sexual harassment claim against a pilot.
She alleged that the company failed to take her complaint seriously.
Elizabeth Jubin Fujiwara, a private attorney and consultant in sexual harassment cases, said it was a precedent-setting verdict.
"It brought out clearly that now our employers must do a prompt and clear investigation, and that they would be held liable if they don't," said Fujiwara, who was an expert witness for the case.
Fujiwara said complaints by five separate women gives a case more weight. With one victim, it becomes more a matter of 'He said, she said.'
"Basically, you're looking for a pattern," she said. "That's usually the best-case scenario, wherein you can show the alleged perpetrator has done this before, and is doing it at the same time to different women."
When an alleged perpetrator is an EEO counselor, then it's an even stronger case.
"Of all people, he's supposed to know better," said Fujiwara. "Not only that, but he's supposed to counsel the people who are victimized or discriminated against."